Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paul Ryan reveals he doesn't know anything about debt or Europe.

Nothing new here.

Their Own Private Europe -

Which brings me back to Paul Ryan and his response to President Obama. Again, American conservatives have long used the myth of a failing Europe to argue against progressive policies in America. More recently, they have tried to appropriate Europe’s debt problems on behalf of their own agenda, never mind the fact that events in Europe actually point the other way.

But Mr. Ryan is widely portrayed as an intellectual leader within the G.O.P., with special expertise on matters of debt and deficits. So the revelation that he literally doesn’t know the first thing about the debt crises currently in progress is, as I said, interesting — and not in a good way.

More examples of Tea Party Common Sense.

Let's not do this.

Special Report: A Long Island tax cut backfires on the Tea Party | Reuters

Ayn Rand Fanboy Paul Ryan Used Social Security “Hammock” to Put Himself Through College

Hypocrisy is very fashionable, and apparently appealing, among the current Bleed the Patient tax cutters.

Ayn Rand Fanboy Paul Ryan Used Social Security “Hammock” to Put Himself Through College | Firedoglake

The UW: a job creator...

Now if only we could convince Senator Grothman that his local branch offers his constituents a way to better lives. Maybe if he'd had the advantages of the UW education he might understand the importance of making that advantage available even in a community that lost nearly all of its manufacturing jobs during the past 15 years.... ahem.

The UW: a job creator - JSOnline

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mad billionaires disease intervention...

Just so we're all on the same page..

Financial industry at war even with our Troops.

Because a buck is a buck, and abiding by the law when money's at stake is not really necessary -- if you're a corporation.

reservist-in-war-against-foreclosure: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Banning plastic bags.

Hi everyone,

Saturday's column

Pollution is in the bag
Suffocating in a sea of plastic, nations and cities produce solutions

When the Italian government banned plastic shopping bags on Jan. 1 this year, it reminded me of the George Carlin routine where he suggests we shouldn't worry about all the pollution we're creating since, at the end of the day, maybe the earth actually wanted all that plastic. Maybe the only reason humans were created was to produce plastic and, now that we have, we’re disposable.

Mother Nature is pretty resilient and, let’s face it, she doesn’t really need us. Still, we do use a lot of plastic bags.

The now-ambient plastic shopping bag started out as a great idea, but they’re drowning the entire planet. Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin figured out how to make them back in the early 1960s and got the patent (Trivia Pursuit fun: the U.S. Patent number 5669504) for the Celloplast Company in 1965.

Last year, worldwide, human beings consumed an estimated 500 million to 1 trillion of the little suckers. In other words, about 1 million plastic bags were consumed every minute. Seriously. Every minute.

Crazier yet, that’s about 15,854 per second – and that’s just the litter, the landfill, and the ocean-clotting mess. Over a hundred thousand sea critters die every year from eating or being choked by plastic bags – including our cousins on the intelligence scale, like whales and dolphins.

What about the amount of petroleum it takes? The United States uses about 100 billion bags a year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, and 100 billion bags require about 12 million barrels of oil (or $500 billion worth at current prices). Put another way, the amount of oil it takes to make just 14 plastic bags would run my car for a mile.

A lot of countries, and a number of U.S. cities, are ahead of us in the race to keep from drowning in this rising tide of plastic bags. They’ve used outright bans, charged customers a nickle a bag, and even imposed tax levies. Italy’s ban went into effect this year following earlier bans in Belgium, Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Thailand, and Hong Kong – to name a few. San Francisco imposed restrictions in 2007 and Los Angeles County followed suit last year.

Here at home in Wisconsin, Roundy’s is already offering a nickle credit for every time you bring in your own reusable shopping bag. They introduced this program in 2009 at Pick’n Save, Copps, Rainbow, and Metro Market stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota. This saves them money and it’s a great way to encourage people to cut back on their plastic bag habit -- but a lot of other places have taken bigger and more effective, win-win steps.

Instead of giving you a nickle for using a reusable shopping bag, a lot of municipalities required stores to charge a nickle for each bag. That doesn’t sound like a big deal. I’d suspect most people would say “Whatever, give me the darned bag.” But, the effects, where they’ve tried it, have been big.

Washington, D.C., for instance, put a 5-cent levy on each bag in 2010 and consumption fell from 22.5 million to 3 million bags in the first month. Ireland did it in 2002 (reduction: 90 percent) and after China started charging for each bag in 2008, they reduced their consumption by two-thirds. One of Canada’s largest grocers began charging 5 cents a bag in June 2009 and reported a 50 percent fall-off in demand just a month later. Since then demand has fallen by 80 percent.

American Samoa banned ’em outright. So has San Jose, California and even Brownsville, Texas. San Jose studied the question for two full years before putting together an ordinance that prohibits retailers from giving out free plastic bags at check out and requires them to charge for paper.

In California only about 5 percent of plastic bags were being recycled so recycling by itself wasn’t working.

San Jose didn’t just jump into this decision either: two years means they thought about it. The City Council took a long hard look at the problem, including the financial and tax implications for municipal landfill, garbage collection and environmental impact – and they banned plastic shopping bags.

We should start thinking about it too.

If the Italian government -- the Italian government -- was able to make this happen, why not us?

Or maybe George Carlin was right.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama ignored the elephant in the room: Corporate profit no longer equals more jobs.

Robert Reich in the Huffington Post

‎"Government exists to protect and advance the interests of average
working families. Without it, Americans have to rely mainly on big and
increasingly global corporations, whose only interest is making money
wherever it can be made.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The loony Right is opposed to violins, remember.

I mean, violence, of course. If you're white.

The Shawna Forde trial: Will the mainstream media bother to notice? | Crooks and Liars

Best comment on the Tea Party yet.

Glenn Grothman: wrong for twisting MLK's dream for America

We have national holidays to honor great ideas and great Americans. What we do on those holidays as individuals is our own damn business. Glenn's moral interventionism betrays itself explicitly here in what can only be considered a latently racist attack.

My question is this: why can't he see the plank in his own eye?

On the Capitol: Grothman has a dream

State Sen. Glenn Grothman has a dream - a dream to stop state workers from having time off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The West Bend Republican says he has nothing against recognizing the slain civil rights leader, but that giving public employees another day off is an "insult" to taxpayers around the state.

"Let's be honest, giving government employees off has nothing to do with honoring Martin Luther King Day and it's just about giving state employees another day off," he said.

Critics have been quick to point out that Grothman has a history of what some would call "culturally insensitive" legislation. He has also tried to amend the state Constitution to outlaw affirmative action, opposed requiring police to collect demographic information during traffic stops to combat racial profiling, and opposed legislation that did away with American Indian mascots.

Grothman says the issues are "totally unrelated," adding that many Republicans oppose the mascots bill and efforts to track racial profiling.

Also this week, we catch up on a little light reading with a former U.S. senator and uncover the state's secret ninja task force.

Glenn Grothman: still wrong about MLK.

Tom Johnson: Grothman, Gaylor a ‘match made in heaven'

How dare state employees be given a day off to memorialize the life and death of a famous religious leader?!

It seems to me that Annie Laurie Gaylor raised the same argument several years ago, but she was taking issue with Good Friday, not Martin Luther King Day.

It appears that gadfly Sen. Glenn Grothman and Little Ornery Annie are singing from the same hymnal. They truly are a "match made in heaven," so to speak.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Frances Fox Piven, Glenn Beck Target, Has Been Threatened

Now, of course, we can't blame the entire loony right for the actions of a few members of the loony right can we?

Frances Fox Piven, Glenn Beck Target, Has Been Threatened -

So--let's hear about all the right-wingers who've received death threats after being criticized on the Rachel Maddow Show. [Crickets chirping.]

Words are not for hurting. Bullying in West Bend schools.

Hi everyone,

A few years back some concerned citizens asked that the hate speech policy at the West Bend High Schools be amended to include hate speech against LBGTQ students. A small firestorm erupted when our local wing of Fundamentalist Christians for a Purer Gay-Free Society protested that this was an infringement on the rights of free speech -- and all the other usual palaver they employ to justify their fears.

The GSA has been kept from getting official club status and, as a result, LGBTQ kids have been deliberately disenfranchised.

Silence, we should remember, is a weapon.

This week's column.

Stand up for those who are bullied

The West Bend Community Memorial Library is hosting a program called Words are Not for Hurting. It's happening at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the City Hall Council Chambers. The topic is bullying in our schools. They’ll be presenting a documentary and a panel discussion.

Like a lot of you, I had a brush with being bullied when I was in seventh grade. The Pep Band was playing at a basketball game (clarinet! -- hey Chris, remember this?) and a couple of tough eighth-graders sat down in our chairs. I told ’em to move. They laughed and said no way. Normally that would have been the end of it -- since I knew better than to antagonize them -- but one of our teachers was standing behind them and shoo’ed them away. I was screwed. Fists were shaken and fingers were poked at me with the promise of violence.

“We’ll find you tomorrow, and you’ll be sorry.”

They were big guys. I was still a wiry little middle schooler a year away from the growth spurt that would, by the end of ninth grade, launch me toward 6 feet.

The next day during lunch period I spotted them waiting at my locker. I turned before they saw me and ran and hid in the bathroom — for about a minute. I was so nervous I broke out in hives, but the situation was inescapable. I took a deep breath and walked down the hall to meet my fate. One of them slapped me pretty hard and they took turns shoving me into the lockers.

Life can be tough when you’re growing up, but I got lucky. Being short made me a target, but I grew out of it. Literally. I eventually got tall and strong and the punks had to stop messing around with me. Ever since then, whenever I see bullying, I can’t let it pass.

Why would anyone?

But what if the thing that makes you a target is something you can’t grow out of ? What if you’re a member of a visible minority? An African, Asian, Hispanic American? What if you’re disabled? What if you’re gay? These aren’t parts of an identity you grow out of — and you shouldn’t. These are parts of an identity you grown into.

Those who were opposed to adding language to the local school harassment policy that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students don’t really understand the kind of bullying we’re talking about. They think it’s like my little seventh-grade brush with getting shoved around.

It’s not.

And this is not a conversation about trying to eliminate conflict from the lives of kids. That’s impossible. Everyone is going to skin their knees. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that bullying is the same as kids getting mad at each other. This isn’t about getting into fights or about kids who just plain don’t like each other. Bullying involves two specific components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power. It’s aggression designed to put the bully in a position of power and intimidating control over the kid being bullied. That’s not the same as a dust up over spilled milk. It’s about targeting someone and grinding them down so they won’t get up — to the point where they’ll eventually stop thinking about getting up.

The numbers on bullying have been reported elsewhere, but here are a few of the telltale figures I keep in mind: a 2004 George Washington University study found that one in six kids are the victims of bullying and a 2007 GLSEN survey found that, among LGBT students the number was 86.2 pecent. And just for chilling effect, there’s the 2009 U.S. Department of Justice Community-Oriented Policing Services report which notes that “In two-thirds of recent school shootings (for which the shooter was still alive to report), the attackers had previously been bullied.”

If kids fall down and get hurt, telling them to shake if off and get back into the game is exactly the right thing to say. But if someone repeatedly, deliberately, and maliciously knocks a kid down -- and tells them to stay there -- you can’t tell that kid to shake it off. You have to do whatever you can to make it possible for them to get back up.

You can start by showing up on Monday evening.